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Update on COVID-19 and School Closures

We reach out to you today with hopes that you are all well and taking care of yourselves.  We continue to navigate these uncharted waters and we have a great deal of information to share with you regarding the upcoming weeks.  While the situation is still rapidly developing, we would like to outline the details that we have confirmed at this time.

As we have previously shared, the Iowa City Community School District has canceled classes through April 12, 2020. It is critical that we support the health, safety, and well-being of our staff and students during this uncertain time. As such, beginning March 19, 2020, all District schools, buildings, and grounds will remain closed to the public until further notice. This closure includes the cancellation of all activities and any events held at buildings including Before and After School Programming (BASP).

The District is directing all employees to work remotely and not visit district buildings or offices unless specifically directed to do so. We are asking that all families, students, and community members also avoid visiting buildings during the closure. While we recognize this could create an inconvenience, the safety of our students, families, staff, and the greater community is of primary importance. Closing district buildings and eliminating access will support social distancing and reduce the threat of COVID-19 spread.

This decision was made after great consideration and follows the guidance published earlier this week by Governor Kim Reynolds in her State of Public Health Disaster Emergency

Student Medications
We understand that students may have medications in our buildings, which they will need while schools are closed. Student guardians (i.e. parents, guardians and emergency contacts listed in PowerSchool) will be allowed access to school buildings on Monday, March 23, 2 - 4 pm and Tuesday, March 24, 8 - 10 am to retrieve student medication(s). Building access will not be granted for any other purpose.

Student Nutrition
Our students' health and nutrition are the focus of our school community during this critical time. During the school closure, the District is committed to providing meals to our students. The District, through the Nutrition Services Department, is establishing drive through or walk up meal pick up locations at a number of District school sites. Per USDA federal guidelines, children must be present in order for meals to be provided. 

The following schools will provide both lunch for the day and breakfast for the following day. Meals will be distributed between 11 am and 1 pm. Please stay in your car and wait for the meals to be brought to your vehicle and passed through the window. You will be given a number of meals based on the number of children in the car ages 1-18. 

Meal Pick-up Sites: 
City High School
Hills Elementary School
North Central Junior High School 
Northwest Junior High School
Twain Elementary School
West High School
Wood Elementary School

In addition, we will also have meal pick-up sites available in the following areas:

Breckenridge Mobile Home Park
Cole/Thatcher Mobile Home Park
Lakeridge Mobile Home Park
Regency Mobile Home Park

This program will be solely for pick-up of meals and meals will not be consumed on-site. We encourage families to continue to be proactive in reducing the risk of COVID-19 by not congregating at the school site once meals have been distributed, continue to wash hands often, sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow, and stay home if you are sick. Meals are intended for immediate consumption and should be stored/refrigerated as needed. Additional resources for food assistance can be found through the United Way of Johnson County.

Student Work and Resources
It is important that students and families are able to gain access to educational, news, and communication resources during this challenging time. To this end, Technology & Innovation staff are using guidance from the Department of Education to develop a process to ensure that computer and internet access options are available to all students and families in the District. The District’s Helpdesk is expected to remain open throughout the school closure. Additional information regarding this process will be provided to all district families and staff at a later date. The intention of providing technology to all students is to offer access to resources as equitably as possible, taking into consideration the needs of students of all socio-economic backgrounds, disability status, and primary language.

In addition to providing for technology access, the District will soon publish a curated resource page to support students and families of different ages and abilities.  

The District is following the guidance of the Iowa Department of Education, dated March 18, 2020. Per Department guidance, students cannot be required to participate in any form of online learning. The District will not be transitioning courses to an online instruction format.  At this time, the District is focused on making technology and resources available to families who wish to use them. Teachers will not be creating instructional programming, sending home assignments, or providing feedback to students during this school closure. 

We understand the particular concerns around students enrolled in AP courses, and those enrolled in concurrent courses, such as Comp 1 and 2 and PLTW courses, that are tied to college credit.  The College Board will be releasing more information on AP testing options on Friday, which we hope will provide more direction. We have reached out to Kirkwood Community College for further guidance on the concurrent courses and are waiting for their response. We know that students who are taking courses directly through the college can continue their learning online, but are unclear on the process for those who are taking courses on our campus.  At this point, the District is directing teachers to refrain from offering continued instruction in these and all courses. 

We will continue to update families, students, and the community as this matter progresses.  

Health Services
The District recognizes the importance it plays in serving student health needs. To that end, we will work to continue the following services.  

School-Based Therapy Services 
Four Oaks and Child Serve will continue to provide services to students through telehealth or in-office appointments.  Four Oaks and Child Serve will contact families directly to make such arrangements.  

Healthy Kids Clinic at South East Junior High 
The South East Junior High clinic will remain open.  Northwest Junior High and West High will be closing in alignment with the school closures.  The clinic will only take appointments for well children who need vaccines or for routine follow up of chronic problems. Children who are ill with NON-respiratory illnesses can be scheduled for appointments. All respiratory illness will be diverted to the UIHC screening system. 

Service Opportunities
Many of our students and school district families will be facing significant challenges in the coming days.  If you would like to help as we explore ways to provide educational opportunities and resources for our District families, please visit the ICCSD Foundation’s website for support. While we appreciate the offers that we have been receiving as far as volunteer efforts, we would ask all individuals to stay away from our buildings and lunch/breakfast distribution sites. For needs that are outside of the District’s areas of influence, and would be best served by social service agency partners, please visit the United Way's Community Disaster Relief Fund donation page.

Questions and More Information
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and many individuals have questions that we cannot necessarily answer through our daily communications. We have been capturing these questions and organizing them on our COVID-19 resource webpage (www.IowaCitySchools.org/COVID19). This is an unprecedented time in our District, our community, our state, and our country.  As we plan for schools being closed through April 12, please know the District’s priority is our students and staff.  Your health and your family’s health are most important. This includes not only your physical health but also mental well-being during these difficult times. We highly encourage everyone to follow the recommendations that are being provided by Governor Kim Reynolds and other state and national organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and Johnson County Public Health.  

Thank you for your commitment to the District and your support through this crisis. We will continue to communicate with families and staff through email, on our website and our social media channels, and through our District mobile app as new information becomes available.  Take care.